Demeter twirls a barley stalk and laughs with Ala
Next to her, between whose knees rest Kore’s head.
Even in this time whose custom grants Ala’s fingers
Rest from blackening soil for her toiling votaries
She works a hostess courtesy with virgin butter of cocoa pod
Into cornrows she has wrought of Kore’s hair.
The harvest festival proceeds before them,
Ala proudly ravelling the gaudy sights and sounds,
Watching the wistful eyes of mother and child:
“I understand. My people too these days
Forget the reason for the fleshy ridges
Of cupped palms — these here are my faithful.”
As the stilts go by, whatever tears of goddesses
Fret the Greek matron’s cheek —
Iambe step hop step hop step hop step hop about Eleusis —
Gods have no covenant with time, no past to mourn,
Only immanent sorrow, as here, of mothers
Who spend the greater part of motherhood alone.
Note: Ala — Igbo Earth Mother goddess, who shares elements with Gaia and Demeter
[Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. Uche is a computer engineer and entrepreneur whose abiding passion is poetry. His poems, fusing native Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared in journals and anthologies including ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum, Corium Magazine, The Flea, IthacaLit, Unsplendid, String Poet, The Raintown Review, Victorian Violet, Mountain Gazette and New Sun Rising. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and The Nervous Breakdown.]
Nze Chukwuka Omenigbo-Nwafor said:
These are powerful,yet sentient words coming from a deep place of sacred reverence. Indeed, Uche Ogbuji has succeeded in engraving a primal principle of Igbo spiritual consciousness on the cosmic canvass of poetics. His proven ability here to interweave the ethereal world of Igbo mythology with that of the Greek is a feat well achieved. Uche, as the ancestors would’ve warmly affirmed, may your days be long.